Carved blocks uncovered in Guatemala show scenes of Mayan life and political history.
Credit: David Stuart
A number of experts have weighed in on the purported, though not scientifically grounded, Mayan apocalypse that some believers fear will strike the Earth on Dec. 21. Not to be left out, the Vatican has joined the growing chorus of doomsday skeptics urging people worldwide to remain calm.
The Rev. Jose Funes, the Vatican's official astronomer — yes, the Vatican has an official astronomer on staff, presumably for just such emergencies — called rumors of the planet's impending doom "not even worth discussing."
Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, also acknowledged that the universe is expanding, and some people fear this may cause parts of the universe to "break away," he added that these accounts of apocalyptic gloom should not alarm Christians because, as he told the Associated Press, "death can never have the last word."
If that statement fails to reassure you, consider the comments of David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley: "There is no true issue here," he said during a NASA Google+ Hangout event concerning the alleged doomsday. "This is just a manufactured fantasy."
According to some (mis)interpretations of the Mayan calendar, a calendar cycle called the 13th b'ak'tun comes to an end on Dec. 21. Most Maya scholars agree, however, that the ancient Maya would not have construed the end of this calendar cycle as an alarming or apocalyptic event.